Organic, fair trade cocoa and sugar supplier born

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade, Côte d'ivoire

Leading merchant of cocoa, sugar and coffee ED&F Man has
launched Corigins, a US-based supplier offering traceable, quality
sugar and cocoa ingredients, Philippa Nuttall reports.

Corigins​ will supply sugar and cocoa - as far as possible sourced from organic or fair trade producers - with access to ED&F Man's network of 4,000 employees in 90 countries.

"It is important that we're seen as part of the ED&F Man group, so customers know they are not dealing with three guys in an office,"​ said Chris Armero, CEO of Corigins.

The new group is also keen to emphasize the importance of quality. It will be testing the quality of all its suppliers and has organic inspectors on site.

Hence, Armero explained they have decided to start with a fairly large number of producers and will later narrow this down to a select group.

Corigins is currently working with eight or nine sugar suppliers and wants to reduce this to three or four, "one for each type of sugar"​. The sugar is sourced primarily from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay and "we are looking for domestic suppliers​.

The cocoa generally comes from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Equador, Venezuela, Jamaica, Trinidad or Papua New Guinea.

"One of our favourite organic cocoa suppliers is in Madagascar,"​ said Armero.

"We want to work with the right people. With cocoa, for example, we will pick those suppliers who offer ingredients with the best flavor profiles."

The company will therefore not source only organic or fair trade ingredients; if they are not available or not up to scratch it will look elsewhere. However, it plans to work with suppliers, NGOs and cooperatives to improve the quality of ingredients produced in a socially or environmentally beneficial way.

"We are not supplying just fair trade ingredients - as they don't always exist and we are trying to meet our customers needs - but we would love that to happen,"​ said Armero.

Organic and fair trade ingredients tend to be more expensive than their "normal" counterparts, but these should come down as the number of suppliers increases. Moreover, the fact all the ingredients are fully traceable means they will help food manufacturers comply with the new bioterrorim legislation.

The company will also work with manufacturers on formulation and advise them on what type of cocoa, for example, they should buy for a certain taste.

The US began certifying fair trade cocoa in 2002 and, according to Transfair USA​, that year the country imported 1450 lbs of beans. This figure reached 178,888 lbs in 2003 - an increase of 1173 percent - and 562,782 lbs in 2004, growth of 215 percent over the previous year.

In terms of benefit to farmers, Transfair believes they earnt an additional $956 in 2002, $12,171 in 2003 and $38,291 in 2004.

The US market for organic foods is projected to reach a value of $30.7 billion by 2007, according to analysis by research firm Datamonitor, and is growing more than 20 percent annually.

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